Do you remember the old Gestetner duplicators? Cutting stencils on the typewriter and patching mistakes with Tippex? Black ink on your hands? I remember no more parcels of Parish Magazines arriving from the Plaistow Press in East London. My father, the vicar, could type and print it, as well as deliver it himself.
I was reminded of this as I read the May edition of the Village Pump , the community magazine for the Herefordshire villages of Blakemere, Moccas, Preston-on-Wye and Tyberton. Like our Grapevine, month by month it is created by a group of volunteers and was originally printed in a front room on a Gestetner.
These Herefordshire villages and the countryside around them are as attractive as their names. Communities just like ours, only different. Small communities with distances between them and a bus only twice a week. Here poverty too, with items for the Foodbank placed in the old red telephone box.
The parish churches keep going, but, like us, they have to adapt. Often they are historic churches, now with tiny congregations. Team ministries, of course, sometimes with 8, 11 or even 13 churches. They keep going with a mixture of tradition and innovation. At Moccas, their medieval church set in a park of ancient oaks, they have recently restored their historic water powered organ.
In an area that was Welsh speaking at the time of the compiling the Domesday Book, it’s not surprising to see a Celtic Communion as the Sunday morning services at Tyberton and Peterchurch. Then a ten mile walk to St. Faith’s Dorstone, all as part of a Rogationtide Pilgrimage. Singing from the tower on May Day is a tradition at Madley. But what about meeting at 8.0pm on Ascension Day outside the Bull’s Head at Craswall and walking to the Cats Back, with a simple communion by ‘an unsuspecting hedge along the path’ Not to mention ‘stargazing on the Cats Back’ afterwards.